Mustangs Of The West, the trailblazing all-female country quintet, have now created three records with KZZ Music/Blue Élan Records, following the release of their highly anticipated album, Down at the Palomino. Building on the resounding success of their critically acclaimed album, Sea of Heartbreak, whic. . .
Mustangs Of The West, the trailblazing all-female country quintet, have now created three records with KZZ Music/Blue Élan Records, following the release of their highly anticipated album, Down at the Palomino. Building on the resounding success of their critically acclaimed album, Sea of Heartbreak, which Bill Bentley ofAmericana Highways called “flat-out one of the best by anyone this year,” the group is set to once again dazzle audiences with their soul-stirring sound.
The Mustangs’ story goes back to the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and the L.A. country scene, where they filled the historic Palomino Club with their soul-stirring harmonies and potent songs. After touring the U.S. and Europe three times, the band amicably parted ways in the mid ‘90s, with each of its members headed off into their own careers as songwriters, session musicians, and solo artists.
Flash forward and the reunited group, now Mustangs Of The West, can still knock the wind out of you with their soaring vocals and emotive storytelling – and they now bring to the table years of industry experience and the mark of finely honed craftsmanship. The band features three original members, lead singer Suzanna Spring, lead guitarist Sherry Rayn Barnett, and bassist Holly Montgomery, with an addition of Aubrey Richmond on fiddle (Shooter Jennings, Duff McKagan), and Quebec’s own Suzanne Morissette Cruz on drums. All five members can sing and play with the best of them, and when they first played a tune for Blue Élan record exec Kirk Pasich, he was blown away.
“I brought them in to play five or six of their songs,” remembered Pasich fondly, “and I literally signed them on the spot.”
Sea of Heartbreak is an album born of that musicianship and experience, and an opportunity for the band of five to show off their cohesion and collaboration. It’s that unique magic that gives them their Mustangs Sound – as well as their individual voices. Lead singer Spring spent her years between fronting The Mustangs (now Mustangs Of The West) working as a songwriter for Bluewater Music in Nashville. The new album features no shortage of her voice leading the band’s choir of vocals, while she also brought the intimacy of a singer-songwriter to the record with quiet story songs like “Blue Rodeo” and “Fiery Angel.”
Meanwhile, “Anytime I Try” features the aching rasp of Montgomery on lead vocals – a gut punch of a song about the painful side of reminiscing, while Richmond delivers a driving rocker full of power and punch with Spring’s “Try, Try Again”. “Learning the Game” features Cruz with a more intimate take of a Buddy Holly classic. Throughout, Richmond’s signature fiddle and Barnett’s melodic and atmospheric guitar sounds stand out.
The band first returned to the studio with 2020’s Time album, produced by the legendary Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, Neil Young); but, like everyone, had their release and touring schedule, including an official SXSW showcase, disrupted by the pandemic.
As the world regained its footing, so did Mustangs Of The West, with help from KZZ Music/Blue Elan Records founder Kirk Pasich.
“The idea was to go and cut a record,” said Pasich, “but when we got in the studio, the band was incredibly flexible and so full of musicianship, we wound up cutting a bunch of my last-minute suggestions of cover songs and alternate versions on the fly, no rehearsal – and actually wound up with two full records worth of material.”
Lead singer/songwriter Spring adds, “These songs have an arc to them – and that’s the skill of arrangement and production and how professional everyone in the band is at picking things up so quickly. We’re able to take songs to all of these different places, where they may start off intimate and plaintive, and then send them somewhere magical.”
The songs are timely reminders to hang on through healing, that loss is inevitable – but to take that ride with grace and patience. Country fiddle, twangy guitar and driving drums complement the lush harmonies that power the songs forward.
Guitarist Barnett adds, “we always record all of us together in the same room, and there’s just this magic that happens. We always have a purpose. And whatever song we pick up, whether it’s an original of Suzanna’s or a classic Buddy Holly song, when we start to play, it immediately becomes a Mustangs song.”
Their second release of 2023, Down at the Palomino, is a masterclass in collaboration and artistry, with Spring recalling the joy of sharing her songs with the band, taking things that she may have originally heard one way but trusting her bandmates to elevate them to the heights that they reach.
“When you write the song, maybe there’s a way that you envision them – but then they take this whole different direction, coming out much stronger and more extroverted, while the integrity of the songs remains.”
The album is co-produced by Blue Élan Records/KZZ Music co-founder Kirk Pasich and Colin Devlin (The Devlins), primarily recorded at Dave’s Room, engineered and mixed by KZZ co-founder Zackary Darling, and mastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge.
Bill Bentley ofAmericana Highways said of the band, “There is a group consciousness that has gelled which brings all the early roots of the Mustangs into the present, and with this lineup, they have locked into real greatness. The band shares lead vocal positions that very few modern groups can, and their songwriting skills have moved them into a place where few others can go.”
In March of 2023, Mustangs Of The West were official artists at the SXSW Music Festival. With the releases of Sea of Heartbreak and Down at the Palomino, the band looks forward to once again hitting the road and sharing that Mustangs magic with the world. And with not one, but two records out in 2023, play they will!
Mustangs Of The West are:
SUZANNA SPRING, lead vocals/songwriter/acoustic guitar SHERRY RAYN BARNETT, lead electric guitar/vocals HOLLY MONTGOMERY, bass/vocals SUZANNE MORISSETTE, drums/vocals AUBREY RICHMOND, fiddle/vocals